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Michaelia Cash, Minister for Women, opts out of childcare briefing

Big Steps

Federal Parliamentarians will be briefed today by educators on outstanding issues in Australia's early childhood education and care system.

Twenty educators from around the country are in Parliament House today to bring Members of Parliament, Senators and portfolio holders up to speed on the importance of a quality, affordable and accessible early childhood education. This is likely to be a big issue in the new Parliament.

Michaelia Cash, Minister for Women and Minister for Employment did not respond to an invitation to meet with educators.

Helen Gibbons, Assistant National Secretary of United Voice, the early childhood union, says “It is disappointing to educators that they will not meet with Minister Cash today.

“Educators’ work is critical to the development of each of the 700,000 young children they educate. Few issues are more important than early childhood education and care to parents’ ability to return to the workforce after having children.

“As Minister for Women and for Employment this falls squarely under Minister Cash’s portfolio responsibilities.

“It would be reasonable for her to make time to meet with representatives of one of Australia’s most feminised industries.

“The biggest challenge facing the early childhood sector is the woefully inadequate wages. Ninety-five per cent of the 80,000 educators who work in long day care are women. Qualified educators are paid as little as $20 per hour, around half the average wage.

“One week ago educators walked off the job to highlight their low  pay. This was the first such action in 30 years.

“This is a problem not just for educators. It’s a problem for families and the economy and it’s up to the Government to fix it,” says Helen Gibbons.

Educator Helen Coffey, Coordinator at Monash Community Family Cooperative in Melbourne, says “By not meeting with us Minister Cash will miss a valuable opportunity to understand more about the reality of life for early childhood educators, the issues that matter to them and to working women.

“We are proud of our work as educators of young children. We know our work impacts on all aspects of life in Australia, its economy and prosperity, and its future.

“We have had huge community support for our Equal Pay Day walk off. The walk off occurred under Minister Cash’s watch.
“A Minister who took her responsibilities to women seriously would be meeting with us today,” says Helen Coffey.